I loved that female barbarian movie HUNDRA, and unfortunately there was never a sequel (let alone a James-Bond-style decades-long series like it deserved), but at least star Laurene Landon and director Matt Cimber reunited for this western adventure serial type deal. Landon plays the first-part-of-the-title character, daughter of Grey Cloud (Claudia Gravi) and “half breed” like Billy Jack, but living among the tribe. Unlike Hundra she’s surrounded by men, but like Hundra she doesn’t think they’re worthy of her (rejecting one suitor by defeating him in a wrestling match).
We begin mid-story with Yellow Hair’s buddy The Pecos Kid (Ken Roberson) in jail and with Colonel Torres (Luis Lorenzo) in possession of the fabled deer-horn-carved-into-a-wind-instrument that could help him find the legendary Aztec City of Gold. When the troops come after her tribe in their search for the gold she has personal reasons to find it for herself.
I thought HUNDRA almost worked as a movie for young girls who like adventure, except it opens with an implied rape and a graphic decapitation. And then later it’s all about mating and sex slavery. Okay, it’s not for kids. Yellow Hair is funny though because it actually opens with stock footage of an audience of rowdy little kids watching it, to show that it’s the latest chapter in an ongoing serial. (Just like HUNDRA was made after CONAN THE BARBARIAN, this one must’ve been made to piggyback on the success of the Indiana Jones pictures.) So you’d think that would be the audience, but right at the beginning the mysterious Talupan tribe stick needles through a guy’s eyelids, hang him upside down, dunk him in molten gold and then break his head off. But if you can get them past that I think otherwise it’s pretty good for the little ones. At least if you’re ready for that talk about cinema’s depiction of Native Americans played by white guys in makeup.
But the tone is fun and upbeat. Yellow Hair is immediately endearing because of her introduction when she notices the flattering onscreen text about her and turns bashful.
To be frankly honest there’s nothing else as funny as that in the movie, but it gets it started off on the right foot. I don’t know if the movie itself is brave or heroic, but it is easy going.
Pecos Kid (who calls her “Yella” after she gets him to stop calling her “darling”) establishes his laidback roguery by not wanting to be broken out of jail. He figures he doesn’t have that much time left before they let him out. But what’s he gonna do when she throws dynamite in and blows a hole in the wall – follow the honor system? Nah, he goes with her to have an adventure and what not.
It takes longer to get going than HUNDRA did, but it has plenty of action both traditional (a battle on a movie stage coach, Landon appearing to do her own stunts) and unusual (the Talupas bomb them with snakes inside tumbleweeds). Yellow Hair’s most badass scene takes place inside a gambling den (she pre-empts cheating by throwing a knife through Pecos’s cards from across the room) and protests their racist admissions policy (by shooting off a guy’s earring and then beating him up). This is made better by Pecos’s confidence and amusement about her being able to handle these dicks.
As far as being a flag-bearer for women of action, Yellow Hair is no Hundra. At the climax she naively falls for a lie and gets strapped to a table, and Pecos has to rescue her. Then she wonders if he did it ’cause of love. It’s actually very sweet and her vulnerability is part of why she’s so likable, but you can’t deny that it would be more exciting if she got to use her previously demonstrated knife, gun or grappling skills when it matters.
By the way, the city of gold is not that impressive. I’m pretty sure there was alot of spray paint involved. But maybe real gold doesn’t look as shiny as we expect. I don’t know, I never really visited a city of gold. Also the transfer on the DVD is terrible, even worse than the HUNDRA one because it’s very noticeable on a modern TV that they use some cheap ass process where every frame looks like it went through a Photoshop filter. There are stills online where the colors look a little better, so hopefully some day they’ll remaster it and make it look right. A double feature blu-ray with HUNDRA would really hit the spot, rights owners.
VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.